“All right,” she said as she looked at the two women sitting in front of her, “nothing that is said or happens here leaves these four walls. Which of you is Becca?”
The brunette raised her hand and said “me – this is April.” Both women were wearing Denim jackets, Becca over a black dress with an orange fern print, April over a strapless peach coloured mini dress. April’s blonde hair was held back with a thin band, a pair of black leather boots on her lower legs, while Becca wore shoes.
“So, Becca, why don’t you start and tell me what happened that day?”
Nodding, Becca began. “We were dressed in these clothes – though why you asked us to wear them I don’t know…”
“Indulge me – please, continue.”
“Well, we had gone into the café to grab a coffee before we headed home, only we were the only people in – apart from the girl behind the counter, who looked at us and said they were just closing. We both said we only wanted a coffee, and eventually she relented, April going to the toilet while I watched as she went to the coffee maker – only to turn round and say she was sorry.
“I had no idea what she was sorry about, until a man in a boiler suit with a balaclava over his head came out, grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me through to the back of the café. I then saw two other women sitting on the floor, their arms behind their back and brown tape over their mouths.
“Well, I knew something was wrong as this guy yanked my hands behind me, and IO felt this plastic strip forcing my wrists together as there was this rasping sound. He then turned me round and pressed these strips of brown tape over my mouth, before he made me sit down next to the other two women and used another plastic strip to force my ankles together. I could see the one round their ankles as well.
“That’s when I knew something was going on…”
“Okay then,” she said as she turned to the blonde, “what happened when you came back into the main part of the café April?”
“Well – I came back in and there was nobody there – not Becca, no one. So I walked round the counter – and I saw the young girl there, lying face down, her wrists and ankles secured with zip ties. It was when I bent down to see if she was all right that someone forced me to lie down, my hands were pulled behind me, and I felt the strip around my own arms. My wrists were forced together, and then I felt my ankles been treated the same way – before I was rolled over.
“I saw the masked man, and then felt the tape pulling on the skin around my face as it was pressed over my mouth. Then I was rolled back over, and as I turned my head I saw the girl was also tape gagged.
“Three more men then came in, also masked and carrying bags that I could see had money in them. The four of them then ran out of the front door, but I was too scared to so anything – even to move.
“Eventually, the police came in and freed us – apparently they were a gang who had used the café to get into the bank next door. When Becca same through, we hugged each other then gave our statements, but still…”
As the two girls hugged themselves, she smiled and said “thank you – the first stage of the process is to be honest about what happened, and admit your fears. And you both were afraid, weren’t you?” As they nodded, she stood up and walked to the desk, opening a drawer and taking two things out, handing one to each of them.
“Hold these, and examine them – do they scare you at all?”
“No –not like this, but why are you…”
As she sat down, she smiled and said “let me explain…”
“Your grandson is quite safe playing there,” she said as both women looked at the young boy, sitting on the floor and playing with the bricks. She then looked at the woman sitting opposite her, her long red hair pulled back in a ponytail, wearing a blue dress with a patterened top and short white boots.
“Yes, well… When it happened, I was more concerned for him than me.”
“Of course you were, Anna – tell me what happened that day.”
“We were at my home – Daniel, my grandson, stays with me three days a week while his mother works. I had just brought him a drink and a snack, and he was watching a film when I went to answer the front door.
“There was a woman standing there, wearing a dark jacket and skirt, and a white blouse – but she also had gloves on, and as she came in she was pointing a pistol at me. She told me, very quietly, to close the door, and then to do as she said.
“Well, I felt I had no choice – I was wanting to protect Daniel, and as we looked in the front room he was unaware of what was happening. She nodded and made me walk up to the bedroom, smiling as she forced me at gunpoint to put all my jewellery and money into the bag she was carrying.
“She then told me to lie face down on the bed, and put my hands behind my back. I turned my head and watched as she took a ball of wool – wool! – from the case, and told me to be quiet or she would do to Daniel what she was doing to me.
“She then tied my wrists together behind my back, winding the wool around and between my wrists, before she bent my ankles back and tied my ankles together as well, before she cut the wool with some scissors on my bedside table. Rolling me over onto my side, she then tore the backing paper off some cloth sticking plaster, and pressed it over my mouth, before she walked down the stairs, and I heard the front door open and close.
“Well, I knew I had to get free before Daniel wondered where I was, so I wriggled over to the side of the bed, and managed to knock the scissors off the bedside table and onto the bed. It took me a little while, but eventually – eventually I managed to cut myself free, take the plaster off my mouth, and walk back downstairs. The program had just finished, and Daniel asked me if I had been asleep.”
“And what did you say to him?”
“I said yes, and called the police after his mother had collected him. The thing is, ever since then…”
She nodded, and said “I understand. Will you do something now for me Anna?”
“What?” The redhead watched as she walked to her desk, and came back with a ball of wool, which she tossed to Anna.
“Tell me what you think you see this, hold this.”
“I… I guess it’s just wool. Why?”
“Does it scare you?”
“No – why?”
“I want to help you confront your fears – so I want you to let me do something with this,” she said as she took the wool back, and made a small loop at the end as Daniel kept playing…
“Thank you for seeing me,” Yvonne said as she sat opposite, the hem of her long brown dress rising to show her knees, the mid-calf black suede boots on her legs. “You came highly recommended to me.”
“Well, my methods are a little unusual, but they get results. So, first, thank you for wearing that outfit today.”
“Do you always ask your – clients – to wear the clothes they had on on those occasions?”
“I do – I find it helps them to open up and be positive about the events. So, please, start at the beginning.”
“Okay – I work as a secretary for a private investigator, but all I do is open the mail, make the coffee, do the typing, answer the telephone – all that sort of thing. That afternoon, he was out on a case somewhere, and I was alone in the office when the door opened, and this man walked in.
“Only – he had a stocking pulled down over his head, and he looked angry. He asked where my boss was, and when I said he was out he said he needed to make sure I couldn’t stop him – and that’s when he pointed the knife at me.
“He told me to stay sitting, and as he walked behind me he pulled what looked like curtain cord out of his pocket. By now, I was petrified, as he made me put my hands behind me, tied them together and then tied them to the back support. It was impossible for me to move them – and then he pulled my legs back around the seat column, and tied my ankles together, then to my wrists.
“I wondered what he wanted, but then he took two black scarves out from his other pocket. One he rolled up and pulled between my lips, tying it round my head so that I could not speak easily, and then the second he folded and blindfolded me with. I just had to sit there, listening as he searched for something, and then I heard the door open and close.
“I lost track of time after that, before my boss came back and found me…”
She nodded as she said “so it was your boss who suggested you come and see me?”
“That’s right – he had heard about how you had helped another of his clients.”
“Well, I try my best – tell me Yvonne, what was it that frightened you the most – the fact you could not move, the fact you could not see, or the fact you could not talk.”
“Well – they were all very scary, but – the fact I could not see I guess.”
Yvonne watched as she stood up and fetched over a black scarf, folding it into a band. “Then that is what we must face first – will you allow me to blindfold you Yvonne?”
“All… All right. Oh my – that is…”
“I can imagine – but I want you to just sit quietly, acclimatise to it, and then tell me if you feel more or less scared.”
“I… I feel less scared, why?”
“It’s a matter of trust – now, may I continue?”
“Hello, Susan, Tommy,” she said as she looked over to the couch, “thank you for coming today.”
“Mummy says you can help,” the ten year old boy said as he sat there, wearing a checked shirt, jeans and laced boots. Susan, his mother, was sitting next to him in a blue wrap top over a white peasant blouse, and faded jeans with the legs tucked into brown leather boots.
“And is this what you were wearing the day the woman came and played the game with you?”
“It was,” Susan said, “only it wasn’t a game was it Tommy?”
“I know it wasn’t a game – and you do now as well – but tell me what happened Tommy.”
“Well… Mummy and I were at home, while Daddy played football, and I was watching television when the door opened, and this woman came in. She was dressed a bit like Mummy – a brown jumper, pants and boots, only she had gloves on, and this funny thing over her face.
“She smiled at me – a nice smile – and said she was a friend of Mummy and Daddy, and was here to play a game of Robbers with both of us until Daddy came home. Well, I asked where Mummy was, and the lady told me she was playing the game upstairs, and she wanted me to come and play it with her there.
“Well, I wondered what that game meant, but she smiled and said she was pretending to rob Mummy, and now her son had to be beside her. Well, I was a bit excited at that, so when she told me to hold my hands out in front of me and I did so, she tied them together with white rope, then told me to put my feet together.”
She looked over at Susan, who nodded as Tommy continued.
“She knelt down, and smiled at me before she used more rope to tie my ankles together, and then tied my legs together here – below my knees. By then, I was wondering what else was going to happen, as she took a longer length of rope, and tied it around my arms and body. It felt as if I was been hugged, but I could not move my arms either.
“She then told me to open my mouth, and she put some cloth inside – it tasted funny – before there was this funny squelchy sound, and she pressed some white tape over my mouth. I couldn’t talk after that, as she picked me up and carried me to Mummy and Daddy’s bedroom.”
“Tommy, I’s like your mummy to tell me what happened before you were carried into her room. Susan?”
The blonde sighed, and said “I was putting some laundry away in the room when someone grabbed me from behind, and covered my mouth with a gloved hand. Then this female voice told me to remain calm, and she wouldn’t hurt me. She said she was going to rob me, and she had to make sur both Tommy and I could not raise the alarm, but if I pretended it was a game, it would be easier for him.
“So I nodded in agreement, and she tied my wrists together in front of me – crossed, like this – before she tied my arms to my sides and told me to lie on the bed. I then watched as she tied my ankles together, and my legs below my knees, and then asked me where my valuables were in the room.
“I told her, she took them – and then she stuffed a cloth in my mouth, and covered my mouth with tape, before she told me not to move and left the room. Well, I could laugh…
“Anyway, a little while later she came back in, carrying Tommy in her arms. I could see at once he had been tied up and gagged in the same way as me, but she laid him gently beside me, and I pressed my mouth on his forehead as he tied his wrists to his legs, and then mine to my legs. She then turned the radio on, and told us we should wait a while, and then try to escape.
“Only we couldn’t – Tommy cuddled into me, his head on my chest, and fell asleep until my husband came home…”
She nodded, and said “when you found out it wasn’t a game, Tommy, how did you feel?”
“Scared – I mean, the lady was nice, but to do that to me…”
“I understand – but I think your mummy also needs to know there was nothing to be scared of, so I want to do a little roleplay with both of you. We will see what happens after that – ready?”
As they nodded, she went to her desk, and returned with a wide roll of white tape, handing it to Tommy. As he looked at it, she sat down and said “now, peel some away for me.” As he did so, he looked up and said “that was the sound…”
“That’s right – so I want you to tear a piece off, and then I want you to put it over Mummy’s mouth.”
Susan looked at her, and then nodded as she said “it’s all right Tommy, I trust you.” The little boy nodded as he tore a strip of tape off, and pressed it onto Susan’s mouth, laughing as she said “Thssfhnn” and her lips moved underneath.
“Are you scared, Susan?” As Tommy’s mother shook her head, she looked at Tommy and said “now, give the tape to your mother, and let her do the same to you.”
“I trust you Mummy,” he said as he watched Susan tear a strip of the tape off, and press it gently over his mouth, before he said “mwhwhhtt?”
“Now – relax, get used to it, and we’ll see if you want to do a little roleplay…”
“There’s nothing to be nervous about Trudy.”
The teenage girl nodded as she rubbed her arm, the black hat on her long auburn hair, before she said “I know – but it’s still…”
“A bad memory for both of us,” her mother Ruby said. Ruby also had long auburn hair, and was wearing a grey wrap top and blue jeans, the legs tucked into knee length black leather boots. Trudy was wearing a black jumper with a white wolf print on it, jeans, black socks and black shoes.
“All right – so which of you wishes to go first.”
“I will,” Ruby said as Trudy sat next to her. “We had been shopping and come home about three o’clock – I opened the garage doors, and we drove in, but it was as the doors closed the car doors opened, and we were pulled out of the car.
“There were two of them – dressed in denim, unshaven, as one of them held Trudy with his arm round her throat, and the other ordered me to open the door to the house. Well, I didn’t want to see my baby hurt, so I opened the door, and they pushed us in. As we went through the kitchen, one of them grabbed some new washing line I had bought, and a pair of scissors, and we were marched into the front room.”
“I was scared,” Trudy said quietly, “as they forced us to kneel in front of the couch, and told to put our hands behind our back. I could see the other guy cut two lengths from the washing line, and then we both had our wrists tied together behind our backs. It hurt when he pulled the rope around them,” she said as she rubbed her own wrists.
“They then cut two more lengths, and tied our ankles together, before they made us both sit on the couch,” Ruby continued. “We had to watch as they cut two more lengths off, and tied our legs together below our knees, then one of them went back to the kitchen while the other one used what was left to tie Trudy’s arms to her sides.
“When the other guy came back, he had another length of washing line – but this one he cut two lengths off before he tied the rest round my arms and chest, above and below, so that my arms were held tightly to my sides. He also had two dishcloths – clean ones, thank god – which he rolled up and stuffed into each of our mouths, telling us if we spat them out we would regret it.
“So we had to sit there, one of them watching while the other made some food for both of them, and then they sat and ate it, and drank, while we were captive.”
Nodding, she looked at Trudy. “So how scared were you, Trudy?”
“Very – I did not know what they were going to do to me or Mum. Eventually, they picked us up and put us over their shoulders, both of us struggling as they carried us up the stairs and dropped us on Mum and Dad’s bed. Rolled onto our sides, our ankles were pulled back and tied to the ropes at our chests, before they left us there.”
As Trudy wiped a tear away, she looked at Ruby. “How long were you like that?”
“Three hours – until my husband came home and found us. They had absconded from the local jail – I guess we were unlucky.”
“Indeed – but the fear is still there, right?” As both women nodded, she said “the way to deal with this is a trust game.” Standing up, she collected a skein of washing line and a pair of scissors, cutting two lengths off and handing them one each.
“It’s just like the one they used,” Trudy said quietly, “what do you want me to do with it?”
“I want you to tie your mother’s ankles together, just as they tied yours. Ruby, if you let Trudy do this, then you can do the same to her – you trust each other, correct?”
As they looked at each other and nodded, Ruby put her booted feet onto the low table in front of her, watching as he daughter wrapped the rope around and between her ankles before tying it off.
“How does it feel Mum?”
“Snug – let me do the same to you.” As Trudy turned and put her feet on her mother’s lap, Ruby tied her ankles tightly together, the bottom of her jeans sticking out from under the white band.
“Now, is that scary?” The mother and daughter looked at each other, and both shook their heads as she cut two longer lengths off, and handed them one each. “Now, tie your own legs together, in the same way, below your knees.”
“I don’t understand, why are you asking us to do this,” Ruby asked as she started to bind her legs together.
“The way to deal with fears is to face them in a controlled manner – when you learn to ride a bike, you will fall off, but you get back on and try again because it is important to do so, right? Well, the same principle applies here. Remember to cinch it between your legs.”
“It feels – different,” Trudy said as she moved her legs to and fro.
“Because you trust yourself and each other not to hurt each other. Now, do you think you can sit on the floor, back to back – and trust me to make sure you both feel secure and safe?” As they sat down, she took more of the washing line, and tied them together round their waists, before using rope to tie their wrists together, and then to the rope round their legs.
“Take a moment, get used to it – and then we continue…”
“Thank you for seeing me for another session,” Louise said as she sat on the chair, her blue floral print blouse open at the top. She had jeans on, tucked once again into the knee length brown suede boots.
“Well, it’s my pleasure – where is Charlie?”
“With his grandmother – look, I know it is a second session, but – well, you did such a good job of helping me face those fears, I wish to take the next step.”
“I understand – the re-enactment,” she said as she stood up, walked to a cabinet, and retrieved a hold all.
“Start at the beginning.”
“I was at home, reading a magazine as I sat on the couch, when this leather gloved hhhnndwsprssdverrmmfff.” Louise mumbled as she pressed her gloved hand over Louise’s mouth, and said “will you be quiet?” As her client nodded, she took the glove away and said “continue.”
“She told me to remain calm, and put my hands behind my back. So I did so, and then I felt the – yes, I felt that,” Louise continued as the rope was wrapped round her wrists and pulled tight, then wrapped around and between several times. “She made it as tight as that, then tied the ends off and put her hands on my shoulders. Next were the ropes around my chest.”
She doubled over the longest length, and wrapped it around Louise’s body below her chest, pulling it tight before she passed it around several more times, above and below her chest as Louise continued.
“Every pass made it tighter, and then he pulled it behind me – like that – before he fed the rope under one arm, up and around the back of my neck, and then under the other arm, so that I could only wriggle about.
“Once he had that tied off – oh that was how it felt – he knelt in front of me, and tied my ankles together.” Louise watched her as she wrapped the rope around her ankles and pulled it, the suede compressing underneath as her ankles were secured side by side, and then her legs below her knees.
She then sat down, and said “so how did it feel then Louise?”
“I was scared – and also excited. Was that wrong?”
“No – perfectly normal reactions. What then?”
“Then – he gagged me. Rolled up my gold headscarf, tied a big knot in it, and psshddhnthhmmfff.” Louise nodded as the gold silk band was tied tightly round her head, and watched as she looked at her.
“And then he left you for a while?”
“Shhrhhtt,” Louise mumbled as she lay on her side, her head resting on the arm support for the ottoman, her legs stretched out along the red leather. As Louise closed her eyes, she watched the young woman, and said “do you wish me to continue.”
Louise nodded as she stood up and walked over, pulling her ankles back so that the heels of her boots rested on her bottom, and then tying her ankles to the chest ropes before she said “he left you like this?”
“Thstrrhhttt – hdnnhwhfhlllshhdhffrhtn.”
“And now, Louise – does the thought of been bound and gagged frighten you?” She watched as Louise shook her head, and said “htssfhnnnhh.”
“Good – then I think you may relax there while I take some notes of how you are feeling…”